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'A lot of learning still needs to happen': Newmarket declares Aug. 1 Emancipation Day during flag-raising event

'A lot of learning still needs to happen'
Aug. 3, 2021
Steve Somerville

Multiple politicians, including Mayor John Taylor, MP Tony Van Bynen, and others attended the in-person ceremony raising the Pan African/ Black Liberation flag at Newmarket's Fairy Lake Park, July 30.

“A lot of learning still needs to happen,” said Jerisha Grant-Hall, chairperson of the Newmarket African Carribean Canadian Association, who is also in attendance at the event.

At the event, it was announced that August 1 is officially acknowledged as Emancipation Day across Canada.

“This [ceremony] is a beautiful demonstration of our commitment as a community,” Grant-Hall said. “The world is slowly coming to a fuller understanding of the impact of colonialism and enslavement. This gathering is a good step in the right direction. Emancipation was something that was fought for and resisted from 200 years ago to today.”

Taylor, commenting on the importance of a greater understanding for emancipated peoples, recited part of a recent speech by an indigenous leader. “We’re not a problem to be solved, we are a relationship to be had," he said.

John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, passed an Act Against Slavery in 1793, which ended the importation of enslaved Africans in Upper Canada. Bill M-36 was passed by federal parliament in March of this year, recognizing it as a celebration of survival, human rights, equality, culture and resilience, particularly for the Black communities, but many others as well.